A Day At The Famous Shuk HaCarmel

A Day At The Famous Shuk HaCarmel
Israelis bargaining for a price on a shirt, tourists buying sweaters at every corner and children eating spicy humus while licking their fingers—just some of the attractions at the famous HaCarmel Market. In the heart of this Middle Eastern city, you will find the best Mediterranean spices, dried olives and fruits and much more. You will find anything you want at this shuk, Hebrew, shuk for an open-air food market. This is the busiest market in Israel, and you can spend a day at this shuk with Culture Trip’s guide as reference.
Olives at Shuk hacarmel, courtesy of Julien Menichini

From Exotic Fruits to Fresh Vegetables

Forgot to buy fresh tomatoes for tonight’s dinner? The market has all kind of clean, fresh vegetables and fruits. You can buy anything — all at the cheapest price available. From meat to fish, pastries to cheese, you can find anything you are needing or wanting. Have some crispy caramelized nuts, almonds, sesame seeds and spicy green and black olives — they are to die for. From the top to the bottom of this market, you will smell food all around you, and it is hard to resist not having a taste of something. It is often a bit crowded, but take your time while walking through it and experience tasting all of the colorful spices served in wooden bowls. If you are looking to sit down for breakfast or lunch, there are plenty of little restaurants all around, so have a seat and enjoy the view of Tel Aviv’s biggest and busiest open-air market.

Fruits at the Shuk, courtesy of Jessica Ohayon

A Multicultural Market

Entering the shuk from the famous Allenby Street, you will hear all kinds of languages, and that’s when you realize people come from all over the world to visit and wander through this special market. If you don’t hear French-speaking people during the summer, you must be deaf, as a lot of French citizens come to Tel Aviv and are excited to start their day by strolling through this multicultural market. Whoever you are, and wherever you come from, you can negotiate the price for whatever you are buying. Don’t hesitate to argue with Israelis; it is easier than you think!

Spices, spices and more spices, courtesy of Jessica Ohayon

Spices, Spices and More Spices

If you forgot to add a little curcuma in your meal, you are at the right place. The variety of spices the market offers is not only incredible but also cheap. From fresh green herbs that will add a delicious touch to grilled fish to an exotic red spice that will make your tongue burn, you can find all of it at the market. You can also mix and match spices; Israelis love to add diverse colors and tastes to their dishes. So everyone, take out your plastic bag and fill it with the best gems, and your dinner will smell as good as it tastes.

In the Heart of Tel Aviv

If you are staying in Tel Aviv for a while, Shuk HaCarmel is located in the heart of this beautiful city. However, if you are staying in the north or the south, even a six-hour drive through the country is worth it to visit this crazy market. If you’re closer to the beach, you can explore the shuk by starting from the bottom and work your up to the entrance of the shuk, which is in the heart of Tel Aviv. The shuk’s parallel streets are covered with trendy apartments, art, Hebrew quotes and much more for you to see! The noisiness and shouts coming from the people are what keeps this market alive, and you definitely have to see it to believe it!

Anything at the Price You Want

There is nowhere else in the world where you can set a price for gold earrings or silver rings you really want, except at Shuk HaCarmel. Ask the venders once, and they will say no. Ask them twice, and they will shake their head, once again saying no. But ask them a third time, and they will probably nod their heads yes. It is easy bargaining with Israelis; you just say how much you have left in your wallet and that is pretty much it. Venders will even give you free colorful beaded bracelets that can last longer than you think. So go ahead and experience the price negotiating — it is a fun thing to do.

Make a Stop at Humus HaCarmel

If you see what looks like an entrance of a synagogue, you’ve arrived at the right place. If you haven’t visited this restaurant before, then you probably have never tried the best humus in the country. Only 12 shekel (3$US), the humus is served in a white bowl with a cut hard boiled egg, spices (harif in Hebrew), eggplant, onions, pickles, and two warm pitas on the side, perfect for dipping. This humus is the best you will ever taste in Israel, and the texture is unthinkable. You will want to finish and lick the entire plate clean. The ambiance and setting is unique since the restaurant was built in an old synagogue. Don’t mind the long line, as it is worth the wait. Hungry or not, you will leave your plate spotless — guaranteed!

Sheinkin Street I ©StateofIsrael/Flickr

A Taste of Israel

When you say the word ‘Israel,’ everyone automatically thinks of the disrespectful manners Israelis have — how loud they speak and how no rules are applied there. The shuk perfectly represents the Israeli culture, and it is wonderful to watch what people buy, to see artists paint, draw and sell their art, to see photographers taking memorable pictures of what is going on, and to see children running everywhere not scared of getting lost in this overflowing space. You don’t have to stay an hour — five minutes is enough to realize you are shopping in the heart of the Middle East.